For many people, their pets are considered a part of the family. They eat, sleep, and live with us, so it’s only normal that we get attached to them. But why do we keep pets at home? The truth is, humans have kept animals as pets for hundreds of years for a variety of reasons, including to keep us company, keep us active, and shower us with love, among other things.
Pets are a great way to combat feelings of loneliness and depression. Studies have shown that pets’ companionship lowers stress levels, boosts moods, and helps people manage life’s challenges better than many other things can.
Ever since I can remember, I have been around pets, from ducks and guinea pigs to different birds and dogs. I wanted to find out when humans started keeping pets and why we continue to keep them in our homes.
The History of Pet Keeping
The scientific consensus is that dogs were the first-ever domestic animal that humans had. Research has shown that humans were breeding dogs over 15,000 years ago. Several hundred years ago, European kings and queens had portraits of their pets painted and would even have custom clothing made with pockets where they could fit their pets.
According to the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH), most of the domestic animals we know today were domesticated not long after people began farming and living in permanent settlements. It is believed this happened between 8000 to 2500 BC.
AMNH has compiled the following likely domestication timeline:
|Animals||How many years ago||Location|
|Dogs||15,000||Asia and possibly elsewhere|
|Pigs||8,000||Middle East and possibly China|
You may wonder why cats are not part of the list. That is because it is not clear whether cats were domesticated or they chose to be part of our lives.
Cats are a part of our modern-day lives, but they’ve been in existence for much longer than we thought. In fact, DNA studies have discovered that cats lived alongside humans over 8,000 years ago!
The study also shows that these felines wandered around humans for thousands of years before deciding whether or not they wanted us.
Why Do We Keep Pets at Home?
You may not be surprised to learn that the majority (67%) of U.S. households, or about 85 million families, own a pet! For the most part, these pets include cats and dogs.
Pets bring joy, companionship, and unconditional love that some humans cannot provide. When you have a pet at home, it feels like someone is always there with you all the time.
You already knew this, but you may not know other awesome perks pets provide us.
They Can Enhanced Your Mood
Having a pet can enhance your mood significantly. Research has discovered that people who suffer from various diseases are less likely to feel depressed if they have a pet at home than those who don’t.
Pets are also very in tune with human emotion and can sense when you’re feeling sad. As a result, they might try to do everything in their power to make you smile again, and who wouldn’t want that?
They May Lower Your Blood Pressure
Pets have also been known to be able to lower your blood pressure and boost your immunity. When you’re around an animal, your serotonin levels and dopamine, otherwise known as your feel-good chemicals, rise, making you feel happier and less anxious.
Having a pet is also a great way to learn responsibility. Your pet can’t survive on its own and will depend on you for everything from food to even cleanliness. Taking on the responsibility of an animal isn’t easy, and it’s certainly not for everyone, but it can be a great way to teach kids to be selfless and learn to be responsible.
Keeping a pet is also a great way to stay healthy. Dogs, in particular, require a lot of exercise, which means dragging you along with them. To keep your dog happy, be sure to take it out on frequent walks or let it run loose in your backyard. If you’ve been looking for a reason to get out of the house and exercise more, a dog is the perfect excuse.
I wake up most days at 6:00 am, and the first thing I do is taking our corgi (Luna) for a long walk. It’s not easy for either of us –we are often sleepy, but it’s a routine that keeps us both in shape! 🙂
They Help you Be More Social
When you have a pet, you’re also bound to meet a lot of new people. It is not unusual for strangers to stop you while you’re out for a walk with your pet to ask to pet them. They may also share an interest in animals and may want to exchange stories about their pets.
A dog park is another great place to meet new people. You will feel more comfortable knowing that everyone there is there for the same reason – to watch their dogs play, and in turn may feel somewhat of a bond with them.
People who live alone may also want to consider owning a pet to battle loneliness. Animals make great companions and are always willing to share a spot on the couch with you. Best of all, they almost always want to cuddle up.
Having a pet can also make you feel safer, as research has shown that burglars are less likely to target a home if they know a dog is present. Some dog breeds make excellent guard dogs and protect you while at home or even while out for a walk with them.
Many animals are also great with kids. Medical professionals often use dogs or other animals when treating children with special needs. Kids with autism, in particular, respond well to dogs, which in turn can teach them how to socialize and communicate properly.
A Neuroscientist Explains How Kittens and Puppies Affect Our Brain
Shannon Odell, Ph.D. in neuroscience helps us understand what being with kittens and puppies do to our brain. In this video, Shannon demonstrates her passion for sharing science in surprising, relatable, and entertaining ways.